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History Center's packing offers unique opportunity

Donna Eschenbrenner

Think about the last time you packed up your home and moved. You planned carefully, and bought boxes and packing materials for all your belongings.

Some things, like plastic kitchen containers or your kids’ toys, you felt could be stuffed into boxes without much worry. Others, like dishes, you probably took more care and used more packing material while wrapping them up.

And then there was your great-grandmother’s glass clock from 1894. It’s delicate, beautiful, fragile and irreplaceable. It has been passed down through your family for generations, and you have fond memories of her showing it to you when you were a small child. It’s so much more than just a timepiece; it’s an indelible part of your family heritage.

Think about how much more care you put into that packing job. Now, if you multiply that effort by thousands, you’ll get an idea of what we are going to be doing shortly at The History Center.

In late 2018, we are moving to a new location, so we’re going to start packing our object collection soon. All of our artifacts are precious parts of local history, many with their own family connections and stories, and each one must be packed with care and skill.

Our collection is the essential enduring element of our organization, and our job is to see to it that we pass it down to our successors (and yours) in as good shape as it is now.

To do that, this December, we’re setting up a “packing station” in our gallery for staff and volunteers to pack artifacts from our shelves. We’ll be using special archival packing materials (no acids) next to the artifacts, and then regular packing materials (thick and protective) around that. We’ll be keeping a detailed inventory of what’s in each box so we can unpack everything easily in our new home. Patrons will be able to watch us pack, and see artifacts up close as they get gently tucked away to be ready to move.

We’re excited to be moving to what is now the Tompkins Trust Building on Bank Alley on the Commons. It’s a handsome building with a long history, and we’ll be sharing it with other local nonprofits. It will be called the Tompkins Center for History and Culture, and there will be beautiful exhibit space, and a large and well-filled research library next to our archives, ready for researchers.

Stay tuned for more information on the new Tompkins Center for History and Culture. Meanwhile, come watch staff and volunteers as we take the “stuff” of history and prepare it for its new home. If you’re interested in helping us pack, email archives@thehistorycenter.net, or call 607-273-8284, ext. 4.

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